Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum – South Korea, 2017

‘1 of the 7 freakiest places in the world’

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum – original titles: Gonjiam and 곤지암 – is a 2017 South Korean supernatural found footage horror feature film directed by Beom-sik Jeong (Horror Stories and sequel; Epitaph) from a screenplay co-written with Sang-min Park. The Hive Media Corp. production stars Seung-Wook Lee, Ye-Won Mun, and Ji-Hyun Park.

Plot:

In 1979, forty-two patients at Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital killed themselves and the hospital director went mad. Rumours and strange stories about the now abandoned Gonjiam Mental Hospital abound.

An internet broadcaster recruits a handful of people for an ‘Experience the Horror’ show at Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, a place selected as one of the ‘seven freakiest places on the planet’. They are to explore the haunted asylum and stream it live on their online show.

To attract more viewers, the show hosts play tricks on the guests. However, things begin to get out of control after the paranormal explorers sneak into the place…

Reviews:

“If it wasn’t for the forced and generic first act that fails to create any real character connection with the audience, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum could have easily been one of the best films of the year. When the horror starts to flow, the film is absolutely terrifying and clever in its use of the found footage tropes that it is built on.” Blood Brothers

“The entire set-up feels very familiar, as it’s been done before, and it takes about half of the running time for the film to warm up and start to deliver the scares, but at the end Gonjiam ends up being creepy and effective enough to be considered a solid ‘found footage’ flick…” CineMarvellous!

“By and large, Gonjiam: puts on a more cinematically polished show than your usual ‘point and shoot’ affair thrown cheaply together with an iPhone, improvisation, and a handful of amateur actors. Alas, stale staging keeps Gonjiam from creating effective atmosphere.  Suddenly slamming doors, jingling bells on strings, and a candle blowing itself out aren’t scary setups to begin with.” Culture Crypt

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is entertaining enough for casual genre fans, or those wanting a couple of good frights, but for non-horror fans or seasoned watchers, it just doesn’t deliver enough serious thrills.” Eastern Kicks

” …if you can make it past the first 15 minutes then you’re in for a truly unsettling and deeply frightening experience. The halls of Gonjiam are brilliantly lit and shot so as to make the shadows as dark and deep as possible and the illuminated portions dingy, filthy, and full of potential scares. Every inch of the screen feels like it could contain a malevolent spirit…” Dread Central

“It’s not that Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is innovative or brings anything new to the genre. It’s just very well executed and keeps its audience engaged. For me, there was a bit of a lull – when it became a tad too repetitive – but overall, I really enjoyed it.” Heaven of Horror

” …the first 35 minutes does drag a bit, after watching the film you really wish director Jung Bum-Shik had just quickened the pace of the film just a tad more because you would have liked to seen more time spent in the hospital. But that is a tiny issue….because he does a excellent job in getting his cast to act like they are truly afraid of what they are seeing. ” The Inner Circle

“If you are a fan of the genre, it’s very easy to recommend Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum. It paints by numbers,but it’s a good picture. It doesn’t do anything super exceptional, but it’s worth your time. If this isn’t a genre you particularly like, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum probably won’t convert you.” Modern Horrors

“A few jump scares are fun but offer no lasting impact […] If the performances are mostly just twenty-somethings running around and screaming, so be it, in the context of the story it works and hey, at least they’re pretty convincing in portraying actual fear.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“Perhaps there’s a mild lesson in the unhappy fates of those who’d rather poke the ghosts than cure them, revelling in the darkness of another era rather than trying to expose it, but Gonjiam isn’t so much about lessons as good old fashioned scares. The abandoned hospital itself is atmospheric, as are the distant banging and doors opening of their own accord but there’s a glibness in its unease that undercuts the sense of dread and inevitability so essential to the genre.” Windows on Worlds

Cast and characters:

  • Seung-Wook Lee … Seung-wook
  • Ye-Won Mun … Charlotte
  • Ji-Hyun Park … Ji-hyun
  • Sung-Hoon Park … Sung-hoon
  • Ha-Joon Wi … Ha-joon

Production:

Principal filming began December 2, 2016, and finished January 13, 2017.

Release:

The film was released in South Korea on March 28, 2018. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 18, 2018, by Well Go USA.

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